Interview With Amanda Martinez

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
I’m a sculptor living and working in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. I grew up in the upstate of South Carolina and I received my BFA in 2010 from Kansas City Art Institute. I primarily make carvings and some work with textiles.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
So I watch a lot of horror movies, I love album art, I like slick neon signs and historical fetish objects, I like language, I like cooking and being cooked for. In the past, my work stemmed from a love for props, but now I think that correlation has broadened to just be the idea of theater. It’s a darkened room with an ever-changing purpose with which you have no choice but to participate. I don’t like work that has all the answers. I like a sense of mystery.

False Face Styrofoam, vinyl flashe, acrylic, varnish, hand-embroidered felt on pleather and vinyl Approx. 4.5' x 3' x 6'

False Face
Styrofoam, vinyl flashe, acrylic, varnish, hand-embroidered felt on pleather and vinyl
Approx. 4.5' x 3' x 6'

Ultimately, my work comes from life. I think the beauty of working abstractedly is letting it all in. There are certainly formal motifs or suggested imagery that may come across like design influences or sexuality or pattern; but I don’t think that my work is necessarily about any of those particular things. In the end, they come across as a series of decisions I made; though each one might contain a particular relevance for me personally. I used to not allow myself this free association while working, worried that it seemed too mystical or romantic; but realized you simply can’t worry about those things if you want to have a truly uninhibited relationship with abstraction.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
A good pair of headphones. I absolutely love music – all kinds. Also, extra fine sandpaper. It fixes a world of problems.

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
I think all artists share similar obstacles: time, space, money, etc.; and maybe it’s living in New York or getting older, but my value for time is certainly increasing every day. I’m looking forward to the day when I don’t have to work for other artists anymore! But these are things we all juggle. I never want to be my own obstacle. I think the biggest constant is just having faith in your work and what you’re doing and busting your ass doing it. The real obstacle is how much cynicism and irony there is in the art world today. It’s toxic. But surround yourself with people you love and respect who know better: Art is just as necessary and relevant today as it was the first time someone printed their hand on a cave wall.

Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non-artists)?
I don’t know about “relate to” because we’re all working under different times and circumstances, but there are certainly artists I admire: Chryssa, Barbara Hepworth, Rosemarie Trockel, Claudia Comte, Annie Albers, Diane Simpson, Richard Tuttle and of course, Eva Hesse. I also admire other feminists, pioneering women and organizations that are pushing every day for equal pay and equal representation for women artists in major museums and galleries.

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
“The more I sculpt, the more it depends solely “souly” on my own will and as I become conscious of what I want conceptually I need to be more efficient technically… All I have to do is work. When I am uncompromising and true to my pieces, others are inspired by my work. This I know.” – an excerpt of a letter written by Jenny Read, 1971, from In Pursuit of Art and Life: Letters and Journals of a Young Sculptor

Double Feature Hand-dyed cotton, styrofoam, vinyl flashe, micaceous black, varnish

Double Feature
Hand-dyed cotton, styrofoam, vinyl flashe, micaceous black, varnish

Beholden To Me Styofoam, vinyl flashe, vinyl on hand-dyed cotton Approx. 42" x 30" x 4"

Beholden To Me
Styofoam, vinyl flashe, vinyl on hand-dyed cotton
Approx. 42" x 30" x 4"


Thank Amanda! See more of Amanda's work here and check out her pieces in detail in our current show, Over Spun.